By Jeff Chaves
The travelers have been trudging through the countryside for days. They are not lost, but their leader is not clear where to go next. He is a man of strong faith with a real desire to reach people with the gospel.
More than 100 miles ago they were prevented from going to their original destination. Weary from the travel, they crest the mountain trail and catch their first glimpse of the sea. Surely they will be able to find their way now! Certainly they will be able to find some people who are in need of their message.
No, this is not a reference to the missionaries of a few decades or hundreds of years ago. This is a picture of Paul, Silas, and Timothy and what they might have experienced on Paul’s second journey found in the Book of Acts: “Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to” (Acts 16:6, 7).
This section of the journey is nearly 400 miles that the team trekked entirely on foot, not clear of the next destination. If they had maps, those would have been very crude and not accurate. They may have found lodging but at what cost? Some scholars have estimated that the entire second journey would have cost more than 300 denari per person. (A denari was a day’s wages.) Paul made it clear, however, that spreading the message of Jesus is worth it.
What has happened to that spirit of adventure? It seems today that we want a faith that is safe and a church life that is comfortable. By contrast, we see a culture that is longing for adventure. This is especially true of our young men. They will spend lots of money to engage in the virtual adventure of the latest video game or create excitement with extreme sports.
The Christian life doesn’t seem to have much adventure and some men have turned away, or outright disregarded church. It is time for us to reclaim the adventure that is found at the core of Jesus’s command: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations . . .” (Matthew 28:19).
We caught up with a couple of men who have made adventure part of their ministry. They are following the footsteps of Paul and going to the nations.
The Frontline Mission
Tim Keesee is the Executive Director of Frontline Missions International. Their mission statement is “Advancing the gospel in the world’s most difficult places.” You can catch Tim going around the world on a DVD series called “Dispatches from the Front.” The videos are shot on location with missionaries from China to Africa. The programs are designed to highlight the advance of the gospel and bring it right into our living rooms.
Tim has been working for the past 20 years to bring these reports from the mission field to the church because he believes the church’s role is critical in mobilizing members. “Some of those people [who see the video] may go and live the adventure of gospel ministry in other lands, but the adventure starts here with all of its hard work and heartache, that leads to the joy of seeing new life spring up out of hard ground—and the thrill of knowing that Jesus is with them.”
He points out that the problem of a “safe” Christianity is not just a 21st century problem. “Every generation of Christians in every cultural context risks becoming passive, comfortable, and quiet.” He points us to Jesus’ words: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24, 25).
Tim explains, “Jesus says if we try to have a safe, risk-free life, then we are going to lose it, but if we give our lives fully to him, then we are going to find out what glory and purpose our lives were meant for—and who they were meant for. This kind of adventure is not driven by adrenalin but by the power of Christ’s endless life working in us and through us!”
He also concludes that the book of Acts is a great motivation. “Paul is indeed a great model for us. He understood that his salvation—and the life and ministry that flowed from that—had a purpose not only in his time but in our time as well.”
You can catch a glimpse of Tim’s adventures in the latest installment of the video series, “The Fourth Man.” This 10th episode features believers “from the mega-cities of Arabia to refugee camps near ISIS terror.” Begin at the Frontline web site for more information (www.frontlinemissions.info).
The Third Option
Evan Dawson is the founder of Third Option Men, a men’s ministry that regularly plans adventures like witnessing in Cuba (before the borders were open), ministering in the highlands of Nicaragua, and the squalor of Haiti.
Evan agrees that today’s church needs to reclaim the adventure of the early church. He says that in the beginning of his walk with Christ, he saw going to church as an inconvenience. “A few songs and bland conversations on Sunday morning, then back to my ‘real’ life on Monday. What a horrible outlook on a redeemed life!” But now, adventure is how he sees Christianity. “Jesus does not call us to a life of passivity. A life lived for him is jam-packed with contagious adventure, and those who proactively seek it will find it! And others will catch it.”
He tells us this type of ministry can reach people in a way that Sunday morning can’t. “Our ministry ironically started out as a small group of men who, for the most part, had abandoned the church altogether in search of real friendship and genuine accountability.”
He says they began to take trips that were at times simple outdoor adventure and other times more missionary. “When we returned and met that following week, we realized our bond had grown even stronger as a result of tackling that physical challenge together.” The group discovered that a life lived for Jesus was fulfilling and contagious to other men.
Evan encourages others to inject more adventure into their men’s group and watch things take off. If you need some ideas, Third Option Men can help. You can find them on Facebook or www.startamensgroup.com.
Let the Adventure Begin
The adventure doesn’t have to be to another country or even another state. Adventure can be as close as your own neighborhood and it always begins with a single step. At its very core Christianity is about adventure. It’s the heart pounding excitement found when we share the message of Jesus. It’s the thrill of serving in his name.
It’s time to think more like Paul. The message of Jesus is worth all of our risk. It’s time for us to reclaim the excitement of taking the gospel into the world!
Jeff Chaves is a freelance writer and minister of Northpointe Community Church in North Las Vegas, Nevada.